Benefits of Mentorship 

The provost's office supports mentoring practices that span a network of relationships that include senior colleagues at Amherst and at other institutions, peers, and external professional organizations. Faculty-to-faculty mentoring can contribute to the success of faculty at all stages of their careers, but is particularly beneficial for those who are newer to an institution. Mentoring relationships may be formal or informal, and these two ways of connecting often complement one another. Mentors provide advice, guidance, and support to help advance the mentees' development as scholars and teachers and engagement with the profession, and to help them navigate the culture of the institution.

Assigned Mentoring Programs: Department Mentors and College Mentors

All new faculty are encouraged and expected to take part in the assigned mentoring programs described below. Assigned mentors often become one of the primary colleagues to whom mentees turn when they have questions or concerns. It is expected that faculty on the tenure track and lecturers, as well as visitors who are teaching at Amherst for two continuous years or more, will be provided with a Department Mentor. Mentees are matched with department mentors from the same department as part of the internal mentoring program that each department administers.

In addition, tenure-track faculty are provided with a College Mentor for the first three years of the mentee's time at the college, a program that the provost's office administers. College mentors are not members of their mentees' departments. There is no formal division between the goals of department mentors and college mentor relationships. That said, department mentors most often can provide more guidance about department issues and advancement within a mentee's (inter)discipline. Authority over departmental recommendations for reappointment, tenure, and promotion rests with a mentee's department. Faculty can opt out of assigned mentoring programs by notifying their department chair (for the departmental mentoring program) and Pawan Dhingra, associate provost and associate dean of the faculty (for the college mentoring program).  Other important details about department and college mentors are available here. 

Peer Mentoring Program for Faculty at All Ranks

Peer mentoring is another effective model of mentoring, especially for those who are already familiar with the institution and want to be in a community of colleagues working on similar issues. Funding is available to Amherst faculty at all ranks to foster mutual mentoring. Interested faculty are encouraged to seek out peers in groups of five to ten to form peer mentoring cohorts. Such cohorts can benefit from attending a workshop together or finding other shared activities such as teaching circles, writing partnerships, and professional development networks. Creating some structure for the mentoring system, such as having one person assigned to be in charge of organizing meetings, helps sustain the relationship. Faculty should feel free to design mentoring practices that best serve their needs and/or to consult with Pawan Dhingra about mentoring possibilities. Proposals for support for mutual mentoring can be submitted at any time and should include a brief description of, and budget for, the proposed mentoring process.  At the conclusion of the mutual mentoring activity, participants submit a brief report detailing the outcome of their mentoring initiative. Send requests and reports to Pawan Dhingra.

External Mentoring Program For Tenure-Track Faculty

External mentoring can be a helpful way for faculty to connect with someone with their specific research interests and in their professional circle. As part of Amherst’s efforts to support the research and professional development of its tenure-track faculty, funding is available through the External Mentoring Program to all tenure-track faculty members to establish and/or advance a mentoring relationship with a tenured scholar outside the college. All tenure-track faculty who have completed one year of teaching or more at the college are eligible to participate in this program. (Faculty who have taught at Amherst prior to assuming a tenure-track appointment at the college may “count” their time teaching as a visitor at Amherst toward this eligibility requirement.)  During the period after the first year of teaching at Amherst and prior to the academic year in which the tenure review takes place, funding of $1,000 a year, for up to three years, is available to provide stipends to a mentor of the Amherst faculty member’s choice. An additional $1,000 will be made available during the three-year period to support meetings, travel, and/or other activities associated with the mentoring relationship.  External mentors cannot serve as an reviewers for their menttee's tenure case. It is advised that mentees check with their department chair before reaching out to their planned mentor, to make sure there is no potential conflict of perspectives between the department and the external mentor. Faculty who wish to apply for external mentoring support should submit a one-page letter describing their need for a mentor, along with the name and CV of the proposed individual, to Pawan Dhingra. Important guidelines are posted here.

National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity

Amherst is an institutional member of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD), an affiliation that offers the college’s faculty many benefits.  The NCFDD is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community for faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students.  More information is available on the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity website.  Faculty who have questions about the NCFDD or its offerings should reach out to Professor Sheila Jaswal, interim chief equity and inclusion officer.  Contact Pawan Dhingra to learn more about the NCFDD Faculty Success Program ("bootcamp"). The Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty offers full support for participation in this program.

Additional Mentoring Resources

"Faculty-to-Faculty Mentoring," Inside Higher Ed

"Mentoring Tips and Topics," University of Massachusetts, Amherst

"Guide to Best Practices in Faculty Mentoring," Columbia University"

Guide to Faculty Mentoring,” Harvard University

On Being a Mentor, Routledge 

"Rethinking Mentoring," National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity